Tolly queen Koel Mallick rocks the part in Puja release Mitin Mashi
Koel Mallick’s Puja release, Mitin Mashi, is the first Bengali female detective movie of its kind, hailing the strength of an ordinary woman
Tollywood has an eclectic range of films on offer this Puja and among them, Mitin Mashi seems to be breaking the norms in more ways than one. First, this is the only movie among the Puja flicks that has a female protagonist and second, the woman is a detective. There are hardly any Bengali movies with female detectives in the lead, to speak of.
What’s even more interesting is that instead of playing the love interest of the reigning heroes, Tolly’s heartthrob Koel Mallick, who plays Mitin, will be pitted against them at the Puja box office. She will be battling it out with other films starring leading Tolly actors like Prosenjit Chatterjee (Gumnaami), Dev (Password), Parambrata Chatterjee (Satyanweshi Byomkesh). However, instead of getting nervous or anxious, Koel is taking it in the right spirit, and feels that there couldn’t have been a better time than the Pujas for Mitin Mashi to release.
“The movie talks about woman empowerment. It’s a movie that any woman will identify with. Just like Ma Durga, who has ten hands, women in real-life too multitask against all odds, and so does Mitin — with great strength, determination and intelligence,” offers Koel, looking resplendent in a yellow, miniature floral-printed mid-length dress. As we sat down for a chat at her beautiful residence in South Kolkata, the soft-spoken diva got candid about Mitin Mashi, and more. Excerpts from the interview:
What drew you to Mitin Mashi, and how did you prepare for your role?
I truly believe that there’s a Mitin Mashi in every woman. Mitin, like so many of us around, is caring, giving and an educated homemaker who also faces the outside world with dignity, determination and sternness that emanates from deep knowledge and confidence. It’s about empowerment and since Durga Puja also celebrates the strength of a woman, I feel that no time could have been better than this to release Mitin Mashi. We all grew up watching detective films like Byomkesh and Feluda, though as a child, I’m sure many of us have read Mitin Mashi (written by Suchitra Bhattacharya) too. I always wondered why there were no films made on women detectives. A couple of years back, during an interaction with a fan on Facebook, he asked if I will ever play Mitin Mashi. I never knew that it would become a reality in 2019. Also, cinema is a good medium to spread social messages. Look at Padman or Toilet Ek Prem Katha. Similarly, Mitin Mashi tries to break the preconceived notion that women can’t do certain things as well as men. This constant segregation based on gender is not fair. There shouldn’t be anything that a woman can’t do as good or even better than men. And Mitin Mashi challenges that notion.
Were there any real-life inspirations for the character of Mitin Mashi?
Of course, I grew up among such strong women — my mother, grandmothers, aunts and cousins — and I have seen them carry ing themselves with so much dignity and determination while handling crises with such strength. You also did some stunts in the movie... Yes, and I had to make sure that I look credible as Mitin. My training in Odissi dance helped me be flexible, and that stood me in good stead while performing certain action scenes convincingly.
This year, looking ahead, you’re set to be seen in so many different roles!
Yes, after Sesh Theke Shuru and Mitin Mashi, I will be in Rawkto Rohoshyo where I play a very trusting and simple radio jockey who falls into a deep trap due to her trusting nature. Then there’s Sagardwipey Jawker Dhon, which is a happy, nice and bright treasure hunt movie for school kids, and Bonny, based on Shirshendu Mukherjee’s story about a couple living abroad, who are taken aback by unexpected incidents. In my 17-year-long career, I’ve always wanted to do interesting films and it’s great to see that such films are finally being made, thanks to the audience, who have become receptive to new ideas, content and on-screen experiments.
Puja, fashion and fitness
● Since childhood, all my Puja days are spent at our ancestral house, Mallick Bari in Bhawanipore, where all of us gather and have unadulterated fun in the courtyard, giggling over the same old stories. This is the only time of the year when all our cousins and relatives come over from all across the globe, and we try to catch up on all the fun we miss out on for the rest of the year.
● Fitness to me is very important, and I always try to hit the gym every day, and follow a balanced diet. My daily diet is comprised of purely home-cooked food that is low on spice. But I have a cheat day once a week, when I eat whatever I want to.
● When it comes to sartorial choices, I love a pair of denim and a white shirt, which can be worn on any occasion. But for formal or traditional occasions, I love wearing saris and during the Pujas, it has to be the heavier Southern silks or bomkais. For evenings out or parties, I prefer dresses in black or shades of blue and magenta, with a nice pair of high stilettos. Also, I love solid bright colours, rather than prints.